Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 121–126

Sequential dependencies in the Eriksen flanker task: A direct comparison of two competing accounts

Brief Reports

DOI: 10.3758/PBR.16.1.121

Cite this article as:
Davelaar, E.J. & Stevens, J. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review (2009) 16: 121. doi:10.3758/PBR.16.1.121


In the conflict/control loop theory proposed by Botvinick, Braver, Barch, Carter, and Cohen (2001), conflict monitored in a trial leads to an increase in cognitive control on the subsequent trial. The critical data pattern supporting this assertion is the so-called Gratton effect—the decrease in flanker interference following incongruent trials—which was initially observed in the Eriksen flanker task. Recently, however, the validity of the idea that this pattern supports a general conflict/control mechanism has been questioned on the grounds that the Gratton effect is only observed with stimulus repetition. We present an experiment testing whether the Gratton effect reflects a stimulus-independent increase in cognitive control or stimulus-specific repetition priming. Although our results support the latter hypothesis, the priming effect is modulated by the congruency of the previous trial. We discuss a new mechanism through which monitored conflict is used to exert executive control by modulating stimulus-response associations.

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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Psychology, BirkbeckUniversity of LondonLondonUK

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